Carrie Fisher died yesterday.
She was only thirteen years older than me.
George Michael died two days before that.
He was only fifty-three. Fifty-three. He was younger than my husband!
Alan Thicke died two weeks ago at 69. Two years younger than my parents.
Prince died in April. He was only 57.
I could keep going.
We know this has been a pretty brutal year.
I don’t know what message 2016 is trying to send us before it leaves.
But I think it’s giving us a big slap in the face.
Moms. Dads. Grandparents. Everyone!
It’s time to take care of yourselves!
I don’t know the stories and causes behind all of these deaths.
But sometimes the cumulative effects of not taking care of yourself make themselves known gradually.
And other times, BOOM.
They come out of nowhere.
Sometimes you are given a second chance to get your shit together.
There is only so much a body and a brain can take.
And if you are over eighteen years old, 2016 is trying to remind you to take responsibility for your shit.
Taking responsibility for your shit requires work. Hard work. And perseverance.
I know it’s no fun.
But neither is being overweight or depressed or manic or an addict and living an unfulfilled and unhealthy life.
Dying unnecessarily in your fifties kind of blows, too.
We are very quick to point out that these days, children, adolescents, and millennials want instant gratification and they want awards and prizes and atta boys without putting in the time or the effort or the work.
If you are thirty or forty or fifty or sixty years old and you are overweight or out of shape or remaining in an abusive relationship or addicted to drugs or alcohol or sex or gambling, it is going to catch up with you.
If you are not sleeping enough, if you are overly stressed and managing that stress in an unhealthy way, it is going to catch up with you.
If you have a mental illness that you aren’t addressing, it is going to catch up with you.
Lucky for you though, you’ve had a wake up call.
I could say you owe it to your husband or your wife or your kids to address your issues.
But mainly you owe it to yourself.
You deserve to be happy and healthy and fulfilled. In all areas of your life.
Some of us have more areas to address than others.
I know I have a bunch.
I still struggle with dealing with stress and depression in healthy ways. Rather than feel the shitty feelings and work through them, I still try to find ways to numb them.
I have used sex and drugs and alcohol to numb them.
Lately it’s been food.
I want to find a way to get through those feelings using my own brain power.
I’m making progress, but I still have a way to go.
I need to address the unresolved issues surrounding my brother’s death.
And it’s not that I need to. I want to.
Because I don’t think there’s much of a difference between my behaviors and George Michael’s. Or Prince’s.
So I propose you spend these last few days of 2016 taking a good hard look at yourself.
Pick an issue that has the potential to catch up with you.
And figure out what you need to do.
And don’t just look at those major underlying, unresolved issues.
But also those day-to-day ones.
Are you getting enough sleep?
Are you eating like shit?
Are you drinking water?
Are you moving your butt every day?
Are you making time for yourself?
Are you taking care not just of your family, but of yourself?
Are you doing whatever you’d counsel your children or best friend to do?
Are you doing as you say?
If not, it’s not too late. Because you are reading this.
Pick an area and commit to making a change. Commit to the hard work. Commit to the life you deserve.
You have the chance to redirect yourself.
You have the chance to redirect your life.
You have the chance that Prince and Alan and George and Carrie and countless others from 2016 do not.
Accept the wake up call of 2016.
And then, take advantage of it.